Edible garden master plan

An edible landscape is not a garden. It is a lifestyle. It is about grabbing food from the earth and preparing the day’s meals.

The season dictates the bounty and the flavours – not the supermarket. Herbs are the staple feature of all dishes with their annual nature.

From the feature pears or cherries in the front yard, the light gravel gives a natural feel and a softness underfoot. The use of aged timber sleepers, meandering paths gives the feeling of getting lost within an edible jungle of every type of citrus. Finger limes feature as well.

The front is a jungle of privacy away from the street scape with the main planting evergreens keeping away the prying eyes of neighbours.

Perhaps a row of persimmons for winter feature splashes of winter orange. Stunning.


The berry family will be hidden in here – raspberries, blackberries, logans, etc. They will grow on salvaged structures of some sort. Medlars, tamarillos, and wampees finish the jungle. Mint will creep into the paths at will. I will let it try.

Rococo chilli trees will stand tall with their year round chillis that are so hot you need gloves. They last seven years and last through winter. Win/Win/Win.

The side path of gravel flows from the front to the rear. Raised brick (bagged) vegetable beds are the feature outlook, with kitchen doors so close for ease of access to the food.

Chairs and table sets nestle inside the vegetables to make it easy to dine where you dig. Think fresh salads from the earth, to a bucket of water, to plate. Simple.

Odd and rare plants will become talking points like the adorable cape goose berries with their hidden fruit lanterns; curry leaf trees, asparagus, yacons, ground artichokes, ginger, potatoes, stevia, caper bushes, pomegranates, natal plums, acerola cherries, Brazilian cherries.

A feature tree (not sure yet) will be the star attraction outside the dining room. Babaco is on my short list for its evergreen mountain tropical leaves and strange yellow torpedo shaped fruit which makes a wonderful drink – Colada morada – in Equador.

Feature tri-plantings of dwarf peach and dwarf nectarines are the low ground cover, with taller trees espaliered along the fence including six different apples, figs, apricots, plums, almonds.

The rear lawn will be a rich green manure of clover, legumes and grasses that will be mowed and fed to the plants and compost. The lawn will share space with herbs of every type and edible ground covers like strawberries, blueberries (evergreen variety) and pepino melons. Horseradish and wasabi will live here too. There will be locks of bocking 14 comfrey to keep the compost bin happy.

Two banana palms will find a home here in the micro climate away from the wind.

Feature olive trees will screen out the neighbours to the north. Avocado trees will stay; as will the more regulated and controlled kiwi vines and guavas.

The south side will feature some shade loving berries that you can eat or jam up. A feature piece of art will be back lit to become the star attraction of the kitchen window.

If there is room – big if….we might sneak in some nut trees – hazelnuts, walnuts and chestnuts.

The outdoor shower – a must – is missing from this plan. Metres from the beach, this one needs to find a home.

This is the latest plan from Jason from Genus Landscape Architects.







Edible garden theory  

I just came across a new term “urban agriculture”. Here I was thinking I was going all edibles. No. I am into a fusion of the urban environment and full scale crop production! Cool.

According to landscape architects there has been a new alignment between the professions but edible are still struggling to become a regular fixture.

Some reasons:

  • There is also the issue of fruit drop and other ‘messy’ habits of edible plants that landscape architects are trained to steer away from
  • There is a common perception that edible gardens lack aesthetic beauty.
  • Many landscape architects may fear a backlash from their clients when the edible garden goes to seed (literally)
  • There are fewer options for choosing just the right colours, textures and forms in edible plants
  • It is true that many edibles, especially annual vegetables, can have a rangy and unkempt appearance, particularly toward the end of the growing season.

Brian Barth has a wonderful blog here about the design requirements of an edible garden.


Namely he recommends:

Use hardscape features to create aesthetic definition.
The clean lines of paths, patios, fences, raised beds, retaining walls, arbors, trellises and pergolas can all be used to create order out what can sometimes be a chaotic and cluttered plantscape. Fruit trees espaliered along a rigid structure (i.e. wood or wires) or a turning a hillside into a terraced vineyard are examples.

 Maximize ornamental characteristics of edibles.
The aesthetics of edibles have much to do with how they are trained, pruned and cared for. A well-pruned fruit tree or grapevine can be truly stunning. However, some edibles have much higher aesthetic qualities than others, making them good candidates for high profile locations in the landscape. These include shrubs like blueberries and pomegranates; vines such as grapes and kiwis; trees like Asian persimmons and apricots; and vegetables such as rainbow chard, colored lettuces and eggplant.

Choose an appropriate aesthetic motif.
Food producing landscapes lend themselves to informal styles. They are intended to be entered and worked in, more than viewed. Thus, sleek modernist or minimalist approaches are generally not the way to go; a ‘workshop’ garden environment highlighted with natural stone and post and beam structures of rough-sawn timbers or weathered iron is a better fit.

Integrate outdoor dining/gathering spaces.
Urban agriculture is about the cycle from food to plate, making it important to design for events and celebrations. Pizza ovens, outdoor kitchens, picnic tables and room for crowds are design elements to consider.

Plan for the unique functional requirements of food-producing landscapes.
Storage for tools and equipment, compost facilities, specialized irrigation systems, greenhouses, livestock quarters, processing areas and farmstands are typical components of ‘working’ landscapes that are slightly different than what typically falls under the purview of landscape architecture. They are all relatively simple to design in and of themselves, but putting them together into a cohesive, functional plan can require a lot of homework on the part of the designer.